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I almost gave up on my business

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I collapsed on the floor, got into child’s pose, and said “I can’t do it.  I just can’t do this anymore.  I think I need to pull the plug on everything.” And I was thinking to myself, “I think I might just need to shut down my whole entire business.”

Life changed very suddenly in March 2020.  It was super intense and it brought about new challenges.

I kept trying to deal with it but found myself authentically Below the Line. I was out of integrity with myself, my family, and my team.

I wasn’t achieving what I wanted to achieve, in all aspects of my life- my career, family, personal life, and even my podcast. And along the way, I was breaking agreements, not on purpose, but I also wasn’t purposefully organizing myself in such a way that I could upkeep my agreements. I kept thinking, “Oh, well, it’ll be different next time.” 

I was unwilling to break agreements with myself but I was also unwilling to fulfill those same agreements. It was causing me stress – lots of stress. The lack of integrity wore me down to a point where I thought I had to quit. 

If you have fallen out of integrity or broken agreements in some areas of your life you too can regain balance. It all starts with being a little more gentle with yourself. It starts with recognizing you may be in Drama, and it’s time to move Above the Line and get back into integrity. 

Recognizing when you’re Below the Line

When you are Below the Line, you’re in a state of Drama. When you’re Above the Line, you’re in a state of Empowerment

The sudden changes in life on a global level and personal level impacted me deeply. And I went Below the Line. I went into Victim, Villain, and Hero mode, sometimes all within the same hour! 

Raise your proverbial hand if you feel like life has happened to you in the past few years… What a whammy. 

When you feel like life is happening to you, and life is not happening by you, you’re not being a creator, you’re not a chooser. You don’t feel like you have choices, and you forget about your personal agency. You’re going to go into drama. 

In drama, you might be in Victim mode big time, like, “Oh, this is so hard. It’s happening to me. I don’t have any help.” Or you might go into Villain. For me, that was, “I’m not being a good enough parent. I’m not being a good enough wife. I’m not exercising enough. I’m not treating my body well enough.” That blaming, shaming, and judging is Villain mode. 

The drama of the Victim and the Villain is so painful because you end up creating your own suffering with all these stories that are not true. 

After stewing in Victim mode and shaming myself in Villain mode, I would go into the final aspect of the Drama Triangle, Hero mode. 

Here’s how I do it: I pretend things are going to stay on track. I have all these great big dreams of how things are going to be really, really different tomorrow or next week. And I keep organizing myself as if those things are all going to happen, but then things weren’t happening that way. And I would fall out of integrity. I’d have agreements and I wouldn’t keep them. 

The question of conscious leadership always comes in, what do we do when it gets hard? How do we handle it? 

There is always a choice. You can choose to stay Below the Line on the Drama Triangle or move Above the Line and into Empowerment. You do this consciously, with a level of self-awareness.

Check your willingness

I wasn’t willing to make changes. 

Despite it causing stress, I wasn’t willing to just ratchet it down and do a lot less because I had these agreements with myself. I wanted to make a podcast episode every week. I wanted to make a deliverable every week. It wasn’t feasible because, ultimately, at the end of the day, I wasn’t willing to do what I would need to do in order to complete those agreements. 

I wasn’t willing to get any less sleep. I was tired and I just was like, “I’m really not willing to stay up until midnight working on this.” And that’s what would need to happen for me to do those podcast commitments. I wasn’t willing to not be with my kids in the evening during dinner time. 

I wasn’t willing to stop seeing clients. I wasn’t willing to stop making the podcast. I wasn’t willing to stop running the Forward Fearless Program. I actually am not willing to stop doing any of the things that are on that big list. And I actually trust that unwillingness, and I trust the intelligence of my resistance there.

What I was willing to do was treat myself differently internally. That’s the Above-the-Line piece. I wanted to stop being Below the Line about my agreements, but to be Above the Line I had to get into integrity. 

So how did I get back into integrity?

I chose to renegotiate my agreements.

Renegotiate Agreements

As a leader of a team, I have agreements with the people that work with me. And I was breaking them, not on purpose, but I also wasn’t purposefully organizing myself in such a way that I was willing to follow through on those agreements. 

It was time to renegotiate. My team and I looked at where we could lower the bar. We decided to make shorter podcast episodes during the summer. We got creative and came up with a plan that we all had a Whole Body Yes to, where our hearts, heads, and guts all said YES! 

The coolest thing about getting back into integrity is that the creative solution that arises when you actually access the Whole Body Yes is almost always better than the way you were trying to do it. And you’re actually going to complete it because you had a Whole Body Yes to it!

You always have a choice. Broken agreements are an opportunity to tune into your Whole Body Yes, get creative, and renegotiate to make integrity come easily. 

Staying Above the Line

It’s okay to be Below the Line and in drama. It happens to everyone! It’s part of the human experience. But when you’re in blame, shame, and self-judgment you don’t have access to the creative energy that is needed for you to make the changes you want or need to make. 

The energy to get back into integrity is available to you in presence, when you are in a state of non-judgment and curiosity. Above the Line, your commitment is to learning, not to being right. 

Be gentle with yourself and know that whether you’re Above or Below the Line, it’s okay. You’re a complex human being on the journey called life. 

You’re allowed to struggle here. You’re allowed to rearrange things. And you’re allowed to acknowledge when the way you’re operating isn’t working. And you’re allowed to make the changes you need to make both externally and internally. You create your impact when you harness your free will and your power and start taking responsibility for that which you can control and let go of what you can’t.

Conscious leadership is about conscious choice.

Photography by Kelley Raye //

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a CEO Coach and social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

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